Friday, July 9, 2010

Flat Pizza from Rubino's

When you call up Rubino's Pizza (in Bexley, Ohio) to order, a guy standing at the counter karate chops one end of the handset on a 1970s vintage beige-colored phone just hard enough to make it pop up into his hand. He's done it tens of thousands of times, probably. You'll tell him your order, and he'll tell you "Fifteen minutes" (sometimes twenty, if they're busy), and then he'll slam the phone back down.

The sign is vintage, non-ironic neon; the store has been there since 1954, and while I've only been eating there for a decade or so, Rubino's not the kind of place that changes much. A big part of its appeal is in its stability. It helps that the pizza is good, though.

Anyway, you walk or drive over there (there's no delivery), and you'll find a very unpretentious building, with a minimal parking lot--you might not even be able to park if they're busy.

Some people eat in, but I've never really seen why: there's really no visual appeal inside. So you just end up standing around waiting for your pies to come out of the oven, which they eventually do. They come out of the oven on a peel, of course, and they get put on a round piece of cardboard and then straight into a white paper sack. No boxes.

The guy on the sacks will fold the opening over three or four times, popping the last fold against the countertop with a downward stomp of his fist. You grab the pizza bags (they have a kind of peak at the top) and take them out to your car and drive home.

We always get one pepperoni, and the other is variable. It's a Columbus tradition for us, and the number is on Rosemary's cell-phone. More than once we've rolled into town and called Rubino's for dinner even before we arrived at the house. It's classic Columbus-style pizza: thin crispy crust, toppings right up to the edge, and cut into squares (rectangular strips, really). The sauce is just a little bit spicy.

I've known some who take their Rubino's pizza with anchovy fillets added on at the house, but that's never been my style; I take it the way it comes.

It's always worth the trip, not just for the taste (see Yelp or Urban Spoon for testimonials), but for the experience, too: the paper bags, the phone chopping, the bag pounding. These are Rubino's rituals, and they're important, I think.


Rosemary said...

As I told Yarmando when he asked me recently about Rubino's, it's not to everyone's taste, but it's definitely my "Ur" pizza.

Some people actually relish the experience of eating inside--I remember doing so after many a high-school football game. Back then, though, the Pac-Man game in the corner was brand new!

As for the anchovies: I think we can all acknowledge now that that was just Dad's way of cordoning off a whole chunk of pizza for himself. He also liked to leave any leftovers in the oven all night, until they got even drier and crunchier than they were to begin with, and have them for breakfast. Mmmm, mmmm good.

Jim said...

Alas, I never had the pleasure. Sounds delightful.

Pam said...

Mmmmm....Rubino's college breakfast....

beth said...

My go to in Dayton (OH) is Marion's. It's very similar, the square cut, toppings to the edge, etc. I wonder if this is an Ohio thing or if it extends beyond the Buckeye State?

We need data. I volunteer for this research project, but may need some additional committee members.

Rosemary said...

Beth, I'll volunteer for that grueling research.

Actually, I've heard Rubino's (and its ilk) referred to as "Columbus-style pizza," because the thin-crust, edgeless pie is apparently a regional thing. (Donato's, Tommy's, the TAT, and other places serve similar pizza.) But maybe it's even more broadly regional than that? Only one way to find out...!